Original Burkett Pecan R.I.P.

Historical Period: 20th Century (1900 & Later)
Historical Topic: Pecan-Our State Tree
Species: Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)
County: Callahan
Public Access: No longer applicable; tree is dead

In the fall of 1900, two young sons of J.H. Burkett were squirrel hunting in the bottomlands along Battle Fish Creek, in Callahan County. Neither realized that a handful of pecans they gathered from a squirrel's nest that day would later be a factor in placing their name in the history of pecan culture.

Their father saw the nuts and, recognizing their excellence, urged the boys to find the parent tree. After some searching along the south bluff of the river, they found the tree. It was on land owned by W. A. Orr of Putnam. It was protected on three sides by live oak and mesquite trees, and between it and the river was a tall elm, which protected the pecan from the eroding river waters.

Each spring Burkett undertook to graft buds from the tree, but he had no success until 1903. Someone destroyed the parent tree in 1910. But today, thanks to Burkett's work, the variety is firmly established. One of the first papershell pecans, it grows best in the upland sandy soil of the Texas Cross Timbers region and requires less moisture than varieties such as the Stuart, which are found closer to the Gulf Coast.

The original budded tree was located in Callahan County, on the north edge of Interstate Highway 20, about half a mile east of Farm Road 880.